Videodrone Cult Watch: Stuart Gordon takes H.P. Lovecraft 'From Beyond'
Other cult items also out: 'Futureworld,' 'Phantasm II,' and 'MST3K Volume XXVI'
"From Beyond" (Scream Factory), the second feature from director Stuart Gordon, reunites the creative team from "Re-Animator" for another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation juiced up with modern science fiction flourish, horror-movie weirdness, and psycho-sexual energy.
Gordon connected with the Lovecraft sensibility better than any other filmmaker before or since, embracing the idea that knowledge of the beyond was both addictive and self-destructive. This kind of knowledge will drive you mad. In "From Beyond," it's also a virus that feeds the id. To see into the other dimension, Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and his lab assistant Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs, in a Muskatonic University shirt – nice touch) create the Resonator, a device that stimulates the pineal gland, a "dormant sensory organ" that eventually sprouts into an unmistakable phallic symbol (though it looks more like a bloody asparagus spear than a sex organ). Before Crawford can shut the thing down, Pretorius is dead, his head devoured by some creature from beyond, and Combs is a raving wreck accused of murder. And that's just the prologue.
Barbara Crampton, who played the victimized object of desire in "Re-Animator," swaps roles with Combs this time to play a "girl wonder" psychiatrist who recreates the experiment to cure Crawford. Forget scientific objectivity, she's exhilarated by the experience: "I have to see more! Feel more!" Meanwhile the border between our dimension and the world of Lovecraftian creatures breaks down and Pretorius, who has crossed over and mutated into a fleshy, rapacious creature of unleashed sexual appetites, takes charge of the machine. Ken Foree (of "Dawn of the Dead") is the third member of the team, a funky plainclothes cop sent to keep an eye on Crawford, who is their top suspect in Pretorius' decapitation.